Spatchcocked Game Hen

by on October 30, 2013

Post image for Spatchcocked Game Hen

{Originally posted February 1, 2009 – now updated with a new photo and an improved recipe!}

“You’re gonna WHAT??!”

I got more than a few shocked looks and snickers when I told family and friends I was going to spatchcock a game hen this weekend on the panini grill.  There’s no escaping the chuckles – it’s a funny word.  Go ahead…get it out of your system.

OK, ready?

I was first introduced to spatchcocking (a verb?) in these posts on  Basically, you flatten poultry by removing the backbone and breastbone so that it can be grilled quickly and evenly.  And when I read that Alton Brown had performed this feat on a panini press I knew the spatchcock would most definitely have to make an appearance on Panini Happy before long.

Flattening the bird wasn’t too difficult – I think I did a decent job for my first time.  The folks at Cookthink recently put together a really helpful step-by-step photo tutorial that made it rather easy.  The tutorial is for a regular chicken but it’s the same steps for the game hens.  Just littler.

On a panini press, with heat from both sides, you can grill a game hen in under 20 minutes—about half the time it would take to roast it.  Game hens are often sold frozen, so be sure to allow plenty of time for yours to defrost in the refrigerator (it may take more than a day) This recipe is a very simple preparation, but you should always feel free to experiment with your favorite seasonings and spice rubs

Who’s ready to spatchcock?

Spatchcock Game Hen

If you liked this post, you might also enjoy:

>Ready to buy a panini press? Check out my Panini Press Buying Guide for the features to look for.

>Want more panini recipes? See my Recipe Index for a list of all recipes on Panini Happy.

>Traveling to a new city soon? Browse Panini Happy’s Great American Sandwich Guide to find the best sandwiches across the country!

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Esi February 1, 2009 at 10:09 pm

I almost just bought a game hen at the farmers market today. I don’t have a panini press, but I may have to try this sometime on my friend’s press.


2 The Duo Dishes February 1, 2009 at 10:35 pm

Wait, what? Spatchcock? lol Wow, we learn something new everyday. This is totally panini-ish. It deserves two slices of sourdough to top it off!


3 pigpigscorner February 2, 2009 at 2:32 am

I love broiling chicken this way, but have not used a panini press for this before. Cool!


4 HoneyB February 2, 2009 at 3:30 am

hehe. I think I’ll spatchcock a game hen just so I can tell people I’m doing it. 😉 Looks delicious!


5 Arlene February 2, 2009 at 7:07 am

I never knew there was such a word for this process. I always thought it was deboning and butterflying. Spatchcock is such a fun word. Thanks for sharing.


6 Susan February 2, 2009 at 7:19 am

You have me thinking I need to buy a panini grill now 🙂 That looks great!


7 RobinSue February 2, 2009 at 11:22 am

Love It! I had asked my butcher to flatten my chicken once and he butchered the job- no pun intended. Like you, it is very easy to do yourself. Spatchcock. There I said it!


8 Elle February 2, 2009 at 11:38 am

That looks amazing! And you’re totally right–it IS fun to say, hehe.


9 Karen February 2, 2009 at 12:58 pm

Spatchcock, Spatchcock, Spatchcock!

Okay, I’m done. LOL


10 lisaiscooking February 2, 2009 at 1:44 pm

Only 8 minutes?! That’s great, and it looks fantastic.


11 lo! February 2, 2009 at 4:26 pm

You are the master of cooking with that panini press, Woman. I love coming here just to see what you’ll do next!

I’ve loved the term spatchcock ever since I heard it for the first time…


12 Barb February 2, 2009 at 7:00 pm

Spatchcock. SPATCHCOCK!

Yes, the 12 year old boy that lives in my head is having a good time.

This looks good! I will have to try it this weekend.


13 Sandie February 3, 2009 at 10:43 am

Whenever I see spatchcocked hens, I think of Jamie Oliver (whom I learned this technique from—of all people). Way to go Kathy, doing spatchcocked hens on your panini press is brilliant!


14 Mike February 3, 2009 at 2:22 pm

I also recently spatchcocked and we are equally mature people. lol, SPATCHCOCK!

The end result looks great and the press-marks give it a really nice finish


15 Kevin February 3, 2009 at 8:44 pm

I have been wanting to try cooking Cornish game hens. They look great!


16 Deborah Smith February 4, 2009 at 4:34 am

I have to confess I don’t own a panini press (yet) but it’s top on my list. (If I could just find a place to store it.) I absolutely love Alton Brown’s recipes. Have you ever tried his Who Loves Ya’ Baby Back Ribs? Oh, to die for. I make them many times a year and if my friends hear I’m making ribs, instant party.


17 teresa February 4, 2009 at 8:16 am

I am really excited about this website. I just barely bought a panini press and I’m in need of some fun originial recipes!


18 Dragon February 4, 2009 at 8:17 pm

Hee, hee…you said spatchcock…hee, hee. Sorry, I was channelling my inner 12 year old boy. 🙂


19 Gabrielle McD February 6, 2009 at 6:12 pm

Don’t all run out to buy a panini press. Have a George Forman grill??? Works great. Spatchcock – believe that might very well be a Brittish term for the game bird itself!?! I will be trying this very soon! Thanks.


20 Marguerite February 7, 2009 at 8:04 pm

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21 richard bennett February 14, 2013 at 10:32 pm

I hate to break the string of 20 straight people commenting on the recipe who have not made it, but here goes. I salted the hens 30 minutes before cooking, added fresh rosemary and garlic salt. Also, as suggested by Alton, added fresh spinach after cooking. It was impressive.


22 Sommer @ ASpicyPerspective November 5, 2013 at 8:47 am

Great tutorial, Kathy! Love that you can do this on your panini press!! Thanks for sharing! 🙂
Sommer @ ASpicyPerspective´s last blog post ..Turkey Breast with Tomato Gravy + Giveaway!


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